Speed

Gerwig 2013-11-27

Do you like going fast? When you get behind the wheel, do you have a need for speed? To be completely transparent, I do. I enjoy going fast. There is a thrill in going fast, wind rushing through your hair, a little adrenaline rush. Speed isn’t for everyone and I’m not suggesting you do anything dangerous or break the law. I’m just saying that I like going fast.

Motorcycles. Roller coasters. Skateboards. Cars. Surfboards. Trucks. Bicycles. Roller skates. Jet skis. Scooters. Ice skates. Skis. Alpine sleds. Go-carts. Boats. During my lifetime, I’ve ridden several types of motorized and non-motorized modes of transportation. Sometimes it was required, commuting to work for instance. Sometimes it was for exercise. Mountain bike riding comes to mind. Sometimes it was for sheer pleasure (as represented by most of the things on the list above), this was especially true when riding my motorcycle!

But in all cases, I either went fast or wanted to go fast. In a few cases, I went fast and wanted to go faster still. I love the sensation of speed and utilizing quick-thinking and quick reflexes to safely maneuver obstacles, whether potholes, roots or a large piece of debris. One reason I have avoided owning an ultra-fast sports car is that I would want to go fast, really fast. While I’d like to think I could control the temptation to go crazy-fast, I’m not sure I could. It’s better to avoid putting myself in that situation. If I ever chose to drive an ultra-fast sports car, I’ll definitely do it at a race track that is designed for such driving. I don’t want to put others at risk.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Cambodia. It was a great time and I highly recommend going if you ever have an opportunity. While there, we spent an afternoon on a tour of the countryside. We rode on the quads (or 4-wheelers) and followed a guide through villages and around rice paddies. Though extraordinarily hot that day, it was an absolute blast.

After about an hour, a good friend and I purposely hung back from the group and then “raced” back. We waited until we were between sights (so we wouldn’t accidently hit any pedestrians or livestock) then race several hundred meters, full out, back to the group. Another time, the group made an unseen turn. We’d hung back so far that we basically missed the turn before seeing them, requiring us to make a quick u-turn.

The guides allowed us to behave like this because everyone in the tour group was with us (a combination of family and friends), though they did give us a couple extra safety tips. One of the guides, who was on a dirt bike instead of a quad, even joined us in several “races.” The dirt was flying and the engines were screaming! We had a great time. I love speed.

Yes, there is also a time to go slow. There is a time to be methodical. There is a time to be measured. And there is a time to go fast. To show some speed. To move quickly. To take a calculated risk. As a leader, you need to know what the situation calls for. Caution? Speed? A combination?

I want to briefly share 3 things you can do to allow you to move more quickly when the circumstances dictate the need for speed:

  1. Discard unneeded baggage. Stop trying to do everything and focus. Really focus. Delegate or delay some tasks. Give your full attention to the short-term goal.
  2. Prioritize the milestones of your current projects. Maybe you can’t completely delay your major projects. Maybe you can’t completely delegate your responsibilities. But for a short period of time, while you need to demonstrate speed in another area, perhaps you can break larger projects into smaller pieces, completing those that are urgent while delaying the pieces that can wait. It’s a “divide and conquer” strategy.
  3. Dig deep and work harder. This approach isn’t always popular, but it’s certainly an option for a time. Being a great leader requires us, at times, to access those hidden reserves of energy and sprint. This isn’t necessarily about working longer hours, though that can certainly be required at times. This is about your pace and efficiency (and hours).

There are times when you need to accomplish a lot in a short period of time. There are times when environmental conditions dictate a need for quick decision-making. There are times when deadlines appear that are out of your control. At times like this, world-class leaders increase their pace. They demonstrate a bias for action and a sense of urgency. They focus. They prioritize. They work hard.

Do you, by nature, like speed? Or are you methodical and cautious? Are there times when you situationally change the pace to meet a deadline or increase your overall productivity and throughput?

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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